Fight or Flight
You’re bound to disagree—but then what?
By: Kara Posner
I was talking to a friend the other day when the words, “My husband and I fight fair,” crossed my lips. I said this because while we have had our share of hurt feelings and disagreements, one of us doesn’t tend to inflict our hurt on the other. To abuse a metaphor: we don’t bring the other down to our wounded level, instead, when there is an issue we ask for a hand back up to where we were. As soon as I said it I realized that just because it hasn’t happened yet it doesn’t mean that one spectacular blow-out isn’t around the corner. I cast my eyes about, looking for wood to knock on. I was idealizing my fledgling marriage of one month and overall relationship of three years. It’s true that we are emotionally compatible, and we enjoy each other’s low drama levels. Still, since we are two autonomous organisms there will be a topic in our future to which we passionately hold opposing ideals. And since we haven’t had previous knock-down-drag-outs there is no telling how it will play out when it eventually happens. Worrying about a non-existent fight is not a pressing concern; it’s not going to keep me up at night. It is a good awareness that if I count on him to continue to fight fair then I had better reciprocate. The two of us have equal power to set the tone in our communication. Wow, claiming and giving that power is a thrill to put into words.
How do you view the importance of fighting in a compatible relationship?
- I’m a passionate person and most of my strongest relationships involved us raising our voices. It’s just how we express ourselves to one another. There is no harm done and we get it.
- I avoid all conflict. I feel like conflict shuts me down and sets me adrift from my partner. Then someone has to suck it up and take the blame so we can put it behind us quickly.
- Fights are way different depending on who I am dating. In some relationships I wouldn’t be heard unless I was on a chair shouting it, sometimes a raised word had a little more power than it should. It all depends on what works with the guy.
- I need to come away from a fight feeling like I have been heard and understood. Fights are a part of relationship growth as long as we are both learning how to be a better partner from them.